Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas, year end progress.

Good intentions only get you so far, but my ultimate goal is to have the newsletter and Christmas cards mailed out before Valentine's Day!  My mom reminds me of the year they were Valentine's letters often.  We laugh every time.  But, still I say better late then never.  Just because I can not keep track of what day in no way translates to me not caring about family and friends.  I simply can't keep up with time.

So, although I have had the letters printed for weeks now (on festive green paper with a hand drawn tree in the bottom corner) and I have bought a gaggle of festive stamps (from Costco) and I rushed and stressed over getting a nice picture of the kids to include in the cards,  they are still sitting here waiting for me to put them in the envelopes and mail them out.

I was contemplating how we get onto a person's Christmas card list.  There is one person who faithfully sends us a card every year, more faithfully than any other it seems.  Every time we open it, my husband and I look at each other and ask if the other remembers who it is.  Neither one of us can.  It's been several years now.  I wonder if I should tell them we are mistakenly on their list, or start sending them a card and pretend we are the best long lost friends ever.  We think it might be someone "famous" according to the pictures they send.

Anyway, here is a copy of our newsletter for 2011.  Hope you all had a Merry Christmas!  Happy New year!  (and Happy Valentine's)

Taggart Times Christmas Newsletter 2011

I don’t know how long it has been since we have written a newsletter, but regardless or how many years it has been, we are only going to cover this year.  This year, like every other year, has been busy for us, as I am sure it has been for all of you!  At last we have time to ponder what has happened and look forward to the next year. 

The four have started kindergarten this year.  Lily has been reluctant to learn her letters and is being “watched” for a learning disability.  We wonder if she simply lacks motivation.  She loves to color, paint, and color. Did I mention that Lily likes to color?  If she could do nothing else all day she would be the happiest kid in the world.  She also reports chasing boys at recess is a favorite pastime. Like her brothers, Lily also enjoys helping Mom in the kitchen and any other way she can.

Brenden has a great sense of humor, but needs to practice when to use it and when not to.  He has had a challenging beginning to school learning to wait his turn and not speak out.  Oh, he also had a tough time remembering that the teacher is the teacher, not him.  “But they were doing it wrong!” was his response.  I did not know that kindergarteners who don’t follow the rules could loose their recess privileges. Hmm.   The computer class teacher (not affiliated with the kindergarten) was very upset when I asked her if she had problem with Brenden.  She clearly does not have any problems.  I believe her words were, “The sun rises and sets with that boy!”   He is learning quickly but also forgets or has a better idea just as fast.

Marek is very self motivated and top of his class.  While I have to pester Lily and Brenden to show me their work and hound them endlessly, Marek is the opposite.  He will pester me, “I have to get my homework done!”  I will say, “Don’t you want to eat lunch?”  Usually the answer is, “No.  I need to get this done first.”  Marek is just as enthusiastic about getting his chores done.

Evan is less vocal but just as motivated, unless there is anything else going on.  Whenever he is reminded he works hard and well.  He is also at or near the top of his class.  He shares a class with Lily while Brenden and Marek have a different teacher.
Evan is still a charmer and loves to meet knew people.  He especially loves to read to anyone who will listen to him.

In January, Dallas turned 8 and was baptized the first week of February.  He always encourages us to choose the right and do our best.  He is a fabulous journal keeper. Dallas is in third grade this year and is doing very well, as usual.   We seem to have uncovered some of his problem with itching and rashes.  We think that to some degree it’s related to stress.  Since Lydia has completed her schooling his skin has improved drastically.  We are also using homemade soaps and lotions and rinsing all the laundry in vinegar. Gluten free foods have also helped some.

Some of Stephen’s favorite things this year are joining Webelos in scouting and making new friends at school.  His teacher was transferred after school began, causing more anxiety than we needed.  Since then we have been working on making friends and getting back to other basic social skills.  We take it one day at a time, but honestly, he is so well behaved it is easy to overlook him.  Especially since he enjoys being alone.  We are all making progress.

Some other exciting things from this year were visits from family members and Steve’s being able to go to Florida to visit family. We camped in Moab and went caving in Nevada.  In February, we had a fundraiser for Lydia’s brother Bryce, who has advanced stage four colon cancer.  We were ecstatic to have over $14,000 raised at the event to help with their expenses!

June and July were stressful as Lydia crammed for the last deadlines and earned her bachelor’s degree from BYU.  (General Ed with and emphasis in family life and a minor in Psychology)  She finished just in time for kindergarten to begin.  The few weeks in August were filled with swimming lessons (for everyone) and violin lessons (for Stephen and Dallas)

Since then, people often ask, “What’s Lydia going to do now that the kids are in school and she has her degree?”  Well, if there were ever a day when homework, lunch money, or sick children were not needing her attention we would let you know.  She spends time volunteering at the school weekly and driving around crazy the rest of the time.

Steve has a new calling at church, Cubmaster.  That is helpful since both Stephen and Dallas are in the program, and soon the rest will be too.  Steve still has time with the older boys as the ward’s Eagle Scout Specialist.  Work has brought him changes and although he has had many responsibilities added without a pay raise or title change, he is happy contributing in a vital way at Varian.

Steve has enjoyed going to the Grand Canyon again this year.  It’s fast becoming his favorite place to visit. 

Some less than exciting events of the year were saying goodbye to both Grandpa Bell and Grandpa Paulsen (both were Lydia’s grandparents)  We fell blessed to have known them for so long in this life and were reminded what really matters is our relationships with family and friends.  We hope this finds you well.  You are in our prayers, always.

Have a Merry Christmas and a blessed new year!

With Love, The Taggart Family

Friday, December 16, 2011

A completed gift!

I have officially completed  a handmade Christmas gift this year!  Well, close enough to count I think.  It will definitely be finished by time the party begins tomorrow night.  Here is a picture of me wearing it.  The apron also has the green spotted fabric for the ties that matches the pocket.  There are two buttons and two button holes for adjusting the size.  I am very pleased with the results.  I think that if I like it as well as I do my sister in law should love it too.  She has gorgeous red hair that would look great with these colors.  She is taller than me and I think it will look better on her.  This picture just reminds me how much more exercise I need.  

Here is the one I made for her daughter.  She is a cute naturally curly blond. She's about the same size as my kids so I know it will fit her, but all my models went to bed before the pictures were able to be taken. 

And now that I have successfully completed two gifts AND posted pictures to the blog, I am going to bed!  Have a great weekend! Only 9 days left till Christmas!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Faithful, Fit and Fabulous book review

I wanted to share my experiences reading this book: 

Faithful, Fit, & Fabulous Get Back to Basics and Transform Your Life in Just 8 Weeks by Connie E. Sokol

As one of my personal obsessions, I was excited to be offered a book to review regarding setting goals and being organized. (Of course it’s one of my favorite hobby topics, having six children born within four years)

Right away I knew I would love this book.  It is easy to relate to and filled with bits of humor while being completely scripture based.  There are references to conference talks and other church approved materials like lesson manuals as the basis of her research.
The layout of the book is simple and easy to navigate.  The author suggests that you read through chapter one and two then you can mix up the other chapters according to your desired focus such as fit and fabulous, joy in womanhood, or get organized. 

Chapter one is very inspirational, guiding and reminding about topics of the Spirit. The author warns or the two week bomb that usually accompanies all good intentions, saying just plow through and be as consistent as possible.  I did have a two week bomb, just as she warned.

During the second week I got stuck in chapter 2 when she suggests that you begin with the end in mind and write your “life paragraph” consulting with the Lord regarding your talents and purpose in life.  This was major stumbling block for me, trying to receive personal revelation regarding what my purpose in life is. 

I went to my husband and said, “I think I’m supposed to…”  He just looked at me for a moment.  In that moment I thought he was going to tell me I was crazy for thinking such a thing.  When he finally spoke he was thinking I was crazy, but for different reasons.  He said, “Haven’t we talked about this before?  I thought that was a well established fact already!”

I have since been reminded that there are two ways to receive revelation, as a light turning on or as a sunrise.  When we receive as the sunrises it is barely noticeable until the daylight is upon us.  I obviously had the sunrise experience.

After speaking with my husband I finally went back to the book and did as Connie Sokol suggested; set a timer and just write then set the timer again and just get it done.  It’s meant to evolve as you grow and change.  I wish I had taken her advice sooner. In later chapters the topic of talents is addressed further.  Don’t get stuck in chapter 2 with the two week bomb!

Everything you need to succeed is included except the action on the reader’s part.  There are examples of life paragraphs and other goals that would have been fine for copying if your sunrise was not noticeable.  The author's website is also a great resource for ideas.  http://8basics.com/

I highly recommend reading this book.  I thought of giving my copy as a gift, but I will have to purchase another copy and keep this one.  Here is a link if you are interested.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Countdown

 Here we are getting nearer to the Christmas holiday every second.  The tree is finally up and "decorated" by the children. We finally have an idea of treats to make for the neighbors and friends.  And our shopping list is near what might be called complete.  I posted earlier about my art supply dilemma.   Let me expand on this exciting gift giving

The one item I thought for sure to keep for Dallas was his hot wheels track. He has “hot wheels track” written on notes hanging around the house and several letters to Santa that I mysteriously loose.  It’s listed on his white board with a star next to it  **Wanted most**.    For sure this would be a great item to purchase for his present.  Until he complains that his sister has told him that she is getting him a hot wheels track.   She never keeps a secret.    Well, I guess I could return that and exchange it for something more exciting.

I know he will appreciate the Nerf guns!  I have been hearing about the need for a Nerf gun for months it seems.  I have two of them with refill bullets that have suction cups to stick on the walls, windows, and fireplace.  Well, that was a great idea until we went to the party at my husband’s work place.  They always have “Santa” there.  He gives out one gift to each child.  We now have five… Nerf guns.  At least now we also know the suction cup bullets also stick to the ceiling.  The refill bullets will still be nice.

Sigh.  I can return those too, or better yet, I can give them to my husband.  They had so much fun this weekend shooting at each other!  It was difficult for Brenden to pull his trigger or load it or something so Daddy just had to help.  I can’t count how many times I heard “These are the best Christmas presents ever!”

I knew they would like them.  So, what did they ask Santa for?  I leaned as close as I could with my pencil secretly perched on my notebook so I would get the one thing they really wanted.  The kids smiled for the camera and started to wave goodbye.  I heard nothing!  I missed it! 

“Wait!  Did you forget to tell Santa something?  Did you say everything you wanted to when you were with Santa?”

“Oh, yeah!  Thanks you!”

That’s right.  All I heard was thank you.  “Is that all?”  No.  Brenden had to be sure Santa knew he was allergic to cats.   No gift requests made.  On the way home Dallas was telling me why Santa gave him a Nerf gun instead of the Hot Wheels track he really wanted.  Of course, Lily was giving it to him already.

Back to the drawing board.  They already have everything they want except for art supplies which I foolishly returned thinking they didn’t want them.  I have extras of what they already got or are getting.  I guess I will just plan on going back to get what I returned.  I think I will drive across town so they don’t recognize me.  At least the kids are happy with what they have.

In other news, I began making a gift yesterday; a homemade gift for a family member.  Maybe it will be completed in time to actually be given this year.  Stephen saw it and asked, “Are you making those to sell them?”  Not the plan but perhaps a possibility.  Enter the neighbor girl, “Oooo!  Who are those for?  Will you make me one too?  How much are they?”  I will have a picture posted for that on Friday. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What is crazy?

I took the four with me grocery shopping yesterday while the older two were at school. Will I ever learn? That is an exhausting experience to say the least. We only had five things on our list fruits, veggies, eggs, yogurt, and medicine (for me, bronchitis. The doctor told me to rest. Ha, ha!)

When we were at the pharmacy the woman on the other side of the counter said, “I still don’t know how you do it. I would go crazy! My one kid drives me crazy.” I smiled and bid farewell as usual, but I started thinking.

What makes a person crazy? Isn’t being crazy defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Well, here I was in the store with the kids again expecting them to behave and not ask for much just like I have so many other times. Nearly every episode ends with my vow to never take them to the store with me again.

Yet, I continue to repeat it even though I don’t have to. I could go shopping while they are at school. I would rather read or do laundry else while they are gone and deal with the chaos of trying to shop with the kids. That is crazy! Why does everyone say, “I would go crazy”? Don’t I look like I am crazy? There is certainly more than once that I have felt crazy!

I take them with me in hopes they will learn how to plan for a meal, save money for what is on the list, put things on a list for future purchases, and keep a budget. (Don’t worry about them learning how to do laundry. There is never a shortage of laundry!)

Yesterday, Marek asked for Chinese food. Letting them be involved in our routine of life brings new and unexpected experiences. I wouldn’t expect my kids to eat Chinese, but since he asked for it we got it. The kids all helped make dinner and then they actually ate most of it!

We had a great evening! Homework was done before Daddy got home from work, dinner was finished right on time, and three of the kids had haircuts while watching a movie after dinner. Everyone was bathed and ready for bed almost on time. Then we tried to agree on what type of cookies to make for Christmas. Needless to say, we did NOT end up going to bed on time, but everyone was happy.

At the store earlier the pharmacist was trying to figure out which of the kids are identical. (none are) I had them stand close together and smile for her. They are so adorable! They melt my heart. They were actually sitting in the waiting chairs being good! Maybe I’m not so crazy. After all, the results do seem to be changing.

I have heard more than once, accompanied by a sigh and look of pity, “better you than me.” I say, “That’s right!” I am so glad to have all my little miracles. They really do make life more exciting.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Artful Regrets

My husband and I took our children to the Festival of Trees. This has been a great experience for us for the last several years as we have donated a tree every year since my father in law passed away, with one exception. (the quadruplet year) We enjoy our effort to remember his generosity and help the hospital in their efforts to raise money for those who are not able to afford their hospital bills, and so forth. Our kids have been dragged along each year to take a picture and end up in the boutique or kid area to spend a dollar or two of their own.

This year our finances are a little leaner and my patience was a little thinner. We did not attempt the kid area; we skimmed through the trees, skipped the gingerbread houses and hurried over to the boutique. Of course, we saw the quilts on our way. Since I have all the time in the world now (ha ha.) I told the kids that, although we did not have $500 to buy a quilt and most of them were sold already anyway, we could take a picture and I would try to make one for them later (meaning perhaps by the time they were getting married).

After what seemed like ages of arguing, pushing, and whining about being to tired, hungry, and poor, we ended up in the boutique. When trying to agree on one blanket we could buy and SHARE a little one ended up on the floor crying.

I was done. I picked him up and headed for the door. My brood came screaming and crying behind me. “I want to buy something! I thought you said we could get a blanket! Waaa!”

I wondered why I cared if we learned about loving others and being generous at all. Outside we began to unravel. I asked, “What was it about the blanket that was so wonderful? Are you cold at night? Is it because we want to give money to the hospital? Are they just so soft and comfy and beautiful that we really want one?”

Of course the answer was they are just so beautiful and soft. I reminded them I said I would try to make one for them.

“But what if the store doesn’t have the right fabric? *sob*”

So, off we go to the fabric store to feel different types of fabrics and tell me, not what they want but rather what feeling they like the best. (I know, I am asking for trouble here. Taking all six kids out again? Crazy!) No one chose silky. Denim was not their favorites either, but Stephen, the one who was making the biggest fuss over it, said he couldn’t decide and I could just surprise him.

Well, making a quilt would take a functioning sewing machine and probably one that was not borrowed for months on end. We walked past the display of machines just to price them out and wow! They were right across the aisle from the art section! I could hardly pull the kids away from it.

It was a solid 15 minutes of: “Wow! Look at this!”

“I could use this!”

“Hey, did you guys see this!?”

“Whoa! Check this out!”

When we finally left every one of the kids were dancing their way out the door singing, “This is going to be the best Christmas ever!”

Still grumpy from the festival I said, “Why? Because you went to a store?”

“No, because we are going to ask for art and learning time supplies for Christmas!”

I moaned and called my mother. “Mom, have you bought presents for the kids yet? They really want art supplies.”

After a short pause she said, “You mean like the ones you just returned yesterday?”

We both broke out in laughter when I said, “YES!”

Who would have thought that they would prefer paint and paper over an X-Box game?